Welcome to the inaugural Equaliser end-of-season awards, a collection of various accolades voted for by the Twitter community – with The Equaliser making the casting vote where there were dead heats! So, without further ado, here are the categories, the winners and a selection of players who didn’t quite make the cut but were deemed worthy of note. As ever, if you’ve got any strong opinions on any of the awards then please don’t hesitate to air your views.
Premier League Player of the Season
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
With 26 goals in 30 Premier League appearances, Wayne Rooney has established himself as arguably the world’s best striker this season. Tremendous movement, pace, power and finishing ability have seen Rooney carry Manchester United’s title challenge almost single-handedly over the last nine months. The runaway winner in this category.
Honourable Mentions: Darren Bent (Sunderland), Florent Malouda (Chelsea)
Premier League Manager of the Season
Roy Hodgson (Fulham)
Fulham have come a long way since narrowly surviving relegation in 2008/09. This season Roy Hodgson has taken his project at Craven Cottage to the next level, embarking on a European adventure and having taken his team to the semi-finals of the Europa League (at the time of writing). Having played an amazing 58 games already this season, Hodgson has rotated his squad brilliantly to keep his players fresh and competitive in all competitions and has rightly come to be regarded as one of the most adept managers in Britain.
Honourable Mentions: Alex McLeish (Birmingham City), Mick McCarthy (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Football League Player of the Season
Kevin Nolan (Newcastle United)
After relegation from the Premier League last season it would have been all too easy for Kevin Nolan, a player with an excellent reputation at the top level, to have taken an offer from a top flight club and abandon Newcastle’s apparently sinking ship. However, Nolan opted to stay on Tyneside and has been instrumental in plotting the Magpies’ Championship triumph with all-action displays and phenomenal consistency in the centre of midfield, not to mention his 17 goals and five assists. A worthy winner.
Honourable Mentions: Graham Dorrans (West Bromwich Albion), Charlie Austin (Swindon Town)
Football League Manager of the Season
Eddie Howe (Bournemouth)
At just 32 years of age, Eddie Howe has already made quite an impact on management in Britain. With a threadbare squad and barely any funds available to him, Howe has somehow masterminded the club’s promotion to League One just a season after keeping the Cherries up following a 17 point deduction, a truly exceptional achievement for a truly exceptional young Coach.
Honourable Mentions: Chris Houghton (Newcastle United), Paul Lambert (Norwich City)
European Player of the Season
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
The top scorer in the Champions League with eight goals, the top scorer in La Liga with 27 goals and unquestionably the most exciting, explosive and skillful player in the world, Lionel Messi has had an absolutely outstanding season. Whether the gifted Argentinean can maintain his levels of performance is a question that will have to wait for an answer, but he is surely the obvious and deserved choice for this award.
Honourable Mentions: Xavi (Barcelona), Wesley Sneijder (Inter)
European Manager of the Season
Claudio Ranieri (Roma)
After being somewhat unjustly sacked from Juventus last season and savagely criticised by Jose Mourinho in the autumn, Roma’s Claudio Ranieri has responded emphatically by turning the Giallorossi into genuine title contenders. Before last weekend’s defeat to Sampdoria, Ranieri’s side had gone 24 games unbeaten to give Inter their first real competition for the title in several seasons. Whether Roma win the Scudetto or not, this has been a superb season for Ranieri who has responded to adversity by demonstrating exactly what he can do in the Eternal City.
Honourable Mentions: Jose Mourinho (Inter), Gregorio Manzano (Real Mallorca)
Signing of the Season
Joe Hart (Manchester City to Birmingham City – Loan)
There may be higher profile candidates for this category, but few players signed in the summer have been as influential for their respective teams as Joe Hart has during his loan spell at Birmingham City. Having begun the season as a promising young goalkeeper and finishing it as a likely candidate to travel to South Africa with England this summer, Hart’s consistent excellence at St Andrew’s has seen him become one of Europe’s most highly-rated young ‘keepers.
Honourable Mentions: Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)
Goal of the Season
Arjen Robben v Fiorentina
Honourable Mentions: Christian Maggio v Livorno, Benoit Assou-Ekotto v Liverpool
Moment of the Season
Palermo Sends Argentina to the World Cup
Honourable Mentions: Messi gets four against Arsenal, Leeds’ defeat of Manchester United
The Equaliser’s Team of the Season
GK: Victor Valdes (Barcelona)
RB: Daniel Alves (Barcelona)
CB: Lucio (Inter)
CB: Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
LB: Patrice Evra (Manchester United)
CM: Ever Banega (Valencia)
CM: Xavi (Barcelona)
CM: Wesley Sneijder (Inter)
RF: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
CF: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
LF: Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)